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Rush - Fly by Night CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

3.38 | 1398 ratings

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3 stars A transitional effort. This album is often lauded for it's progressive ambitions, but then poo pooed for the fact that the band still does a lot of hard rock. Let's face facts: at this point in time, the band was best at hard rock. Tracks like Anthem, Beneath Between and Beneath, Fly By Night, and parts of By-Tor show the band operating at their best. Lots of energy, great riffs, great playing, and the added push of a truly excellent drummer. The hard rock parts of this album are a general huge improvement over the tenative and derviative feel of the (fun) first album. The production is better, the songs are more creative, and the band is developing their own feel for their hard rock style. Not to mention the fact that the band is playing much better than they were earlier. With a more accomplished drummer, Geddy and Lifeson are allowed to explode and explore much more fully than before.

Those are the good sides of the album. If the album had focused on those hard rock elements (which I insist were their real strengths at this time) it would have been a four star worthy album. Unfortunately, the band decided to dip their toes into progressive music, and they were very unprepared. First of all, the number one offender on this album, the one person who makes the progressive elements of this album laughable, if anyone doubted it, is Mr. Neil Peart. I absolutely hate his lyrics on this album. Hate them. The man later turned into a very accomplished lyricist (around Permanent Waves) who really delves into many complex situations with a degree of understanding and literacy that, while not unheard of in rock (I've heard much better lyricists than Peart even at his best) are at least worthy of notice.

However, at this early stage Neil is...awful. No sense of holding back eh? Rivendell is, of course, one of the main offenders. The song wasn't great any ways. It's kind of pretty, but really not developed enough to gain true points for beauty. Rush always has a hard time with ballads, and this is a great example. The song would be passable and ignorable if it was a love song. But no, it's a stupid Tolkien song. "I've travelled so many miles, it's so good to see the smiles..." Ugh... "Elven songs and endless nights." UGH! I won't go into great detail on the whole song. Some of the lyrics are okay. The nostalgic feel of the song could work...if it wasn't about elves. Sorry.

Beneath Between and Behind, while being strong musically, is also particularly bad. "Ten score years ago, defeat the kingly foe/A wondrous dream came into being/Tame the trackless waste, no virgin land left chaste/All shining eyes, but never seeing." What is that all about? That's awful. I don't mind a lyricist trying to take me into different worlds. In fact, in progressive rock, it's usually prefered. Early Jon Anderson is a great example. He blathers and rants and says some pretty questionable things (giant purple wolfhound?), but his lyrics are vivid, colorful, distinct, and definitely take me places. Neil's are too blunt, too cliched, and too cringe worthy in many of the rhymes for me to take them seriously. His lyrics constantly sabotage this album.

By-Tor is another great example. While the song would only truly come alive onstage (as many have stated already) it's still enjoyable musically. But the lyrics are seriously some of the worst I've ever read. "Tobes of Hades, lit by flickering torchlight/The netherworld is gathered in the glare/Prince By-Tor takes the cavern to the north light/The sign of Eth is rising in the air." Ugh. Truly awful.

Even Anthem, arguably the best song on the album, is ruined by Neil's preachy ode to Ayn Rand and objectivism. I hate objectivism and Ayn Rand for many reasons I won't go into here because this is an album review. So hearing her crap being praised as something Godlike will irritate me every time. It's actually amazing to me that Neil got better, and I praise him for that. I really do. And before anybody gets angry at me, and asks me if I could do better lyrically, I'll answer you: no. I do write songs, and I'm not a good lyricist yet.

Anyways, this album is a classic transitional album: one foot in the past, exploring and pefecting old styles, while pushing towards new styles tentatively and hoping for the best. And as usual, only the old styles work. The next album, however, would be an even bigger jump into new styles.

SonicDeath10 | 3/5 |


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